Success in Show Dogs

Can an unknown dog ever score a big win?

By | Posted: Thu Dec 2 00:00:00 PST 2004

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Now I know there are those who will immediately take umbrage at what I'm saying and ask how I might dare to questio n the decisions of the brilliant (insert name here) whose choices are beyond reproach. My point is not about a person; it's about the direction we've taken in American dog show judging.  We've put ourselves into a boxa box that shuts out objectivity and confines decision-making to current history.

To answer the objections of the pundits, let's use a little common sense. "The judge is a wild card, totally unpredictable, a giant-killer." It's the unpredictability that's objected to here. If only the judge would always put up the lesser-known dogs, then the big winner could stay away. But a good judge may well put up the all-time winner today and an unknown tomorrow. That's the worrisome part for those who feel only the dogs that have won should win. And as far as predictability goes, where in the criteria of good judging does it say that a judge should be predictable? The only thing that should be predictable about a judge is that he will do a good job, i.e. put up the best dog.

"How could a dog that has never won anything legitimately defeat dogs with record-shattering accomplishments?" Duh, the greatest winner of all time started off with zero wins. Ch. Altana's Mystique, the German Shepherd, did not drop from the womb with her 200-plus Best in Show record. Get real.

You all have seen that dog that has been shown time and time again with little or nothing to show for all the effort. That is, until someone in some place gives the dog a major group or a Best in Show, and whamthe dog is out of the chutes and goes full steam ahead. It happened just this past summer. A dog that had been shown for a respectable length of time won his first Best in Show in June and by September had amassed six more. Sure, sure"the dog was now fully matured." Yes, maturity arrived on that fateful day of his first Best in Show. Nonsense!

We have dogs of great quality winning today, and they should win, but does it follow that they are the only dogs that should win? This is not an indictment of winning dogs; this is a criticism of those who are not able to see all of the dogs competing.

I read something of great interest written by Simon Parsons in a recent issue of England's Dog World. He wrote of the Standard Poodle, Ch. Topscore Contradiction, who made three visits to the U.K. in 2002. "King" won Best in Show at Crufts, BIS at the Welsh Kennel Cub and the group at the Scottish Kennel Club. This he combined with many other spectacular wins throughout Europe.

King's handler then came to America. The dog's fans all wondered how he would fare against the cream of American competition where both he and his handler Mikael Nilsson were relatively unknown and from a world totally apart from that of American professionals.

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